We’ve featured some articles on the designs of pulp novel covers from the mid-20th century, including s look at the fonts used in those designs. We’ve also released fonts based on those designs, like suspicion. These old book cover designs are a great resource for period fonts and lettering, and in going through a slew of them, my eye was caught by the title design for the Dell reissues of the Mike Shayne mystery novels in the 1960s, which use a heavy weight font which mixes up traditional upper and lowercase forms. The font is very characteristic of 1960s book and poster design and similar to the font used for the first Rolling Stones Album and the Mickey Spillane pulp novels of the same period.
The Spillane font falls in the same general style but although it is about the same boldness, is notably different in having tiny serifs on the characters. It also uses just uppercase forms rather than mixing upper and lowercase, but in developing the Shayne font it was a useful reference for what the uppercase variants might look like.
The end result in the Shayne font is a heavy weight which mixes upper and lowercase character forms in a way which is very characteristic of 1960s design. It’s as excellent for posters and book covers today as it was when the Mike Shayne novels were popular.
The Mike Shayne mystery novels were written by a series of writers under the name Brett Halliday, and though they are not much remembered today, they were very popular, spawning 12 movies, a radio show and a television series. They followed the popular private eye conventions of the period, including the classic drawing room denouement with all of the suspects present. The series began in the 1930s and reached its peak of popularity in the late 1950s before being supplanted by racier hard-boiled detective fiction.